As a licensed vehicle dealer in New York, your ability to stay in business is directly connected with the validity of your license. The New York DMV holds its dealers to strict regulatory standards regarding how and where they do business, and maintaining public trust is paramount. Any violation of these standards (both real or perceived) could trigger an investigation into your vehicle dealer license, potentially culminating in having your license suspended or revoked.
If you receive notice that your dealer license is under scrutiny, you are fortunately not without options. Hiring an experienced professional license defense attorney can often prevent the most unfavorable outcomes. The Lento Law Firm has successfully assisted many New York licensed professionals who have faced claims of misconduct and likely disciplinary action. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his legal team understand the disciplinary process and have the knowledge to provide a strong defense for your license. Call 888-535-3686 to discuss your case and your options.
What Allegations Could Cause You to Lose Your Dealership License?
Many vehicle dealerships risk losing their license if they violate state regulations or otherwise show disregard for public trust. Common triggers for revocation include (although are not limited to):
- Fraudulent activity. This category encompasses a wide range of examples, including false advertising, overbilling customers, altering VIN numbers, tampering with odometers, or any other attempt to defraud the public or make misrepresentations to the DMV.
- Failure to conduct your dealership according to state regulations. In New York, dealership regulations are extremely strict, from signage and certifications to where vehicles can be sold. Any missteps that contravene these policies could result in the revocation of your license.
- Failing to keep your records or ledgers at the licensed location. State inspectors could arrive to conduct a financial audit at any time; if you don't have your records in order or are found to be keeping poor documentation of company expenses, disciplinary measures may follow.
- Unlawful use of dealer plates. Abusing the privilege of using dealer plates (for example, on commercial or for-hire vehicles) may be grounds for revoking your license.
- Certain criminal convictions. If you've been convicted of a crime related to fraud, theft, or auto-related offenses, the DMV may disqualify you from holding a license or revoke your existing license.
What Will the Disciplinary Process Look Like?
Most disciplinary actions against vehicle dealers in New York begin either when a state inspector reports violations during an inspection or when someone files a complaint with the Commissioner of the DMV. From there, the disciplinary process moves through a set of stages.
When a complaint is submitted, the DMV will investigate to determine whether the complaint has merit. In the case of a failed inspection, sometimes you will be given time to correct the issue, and if you pass a follow-up inspection, the matter will be closed. In other matters, or for more serious offenses, the agency may review documentation, interview the complainant, and do other research to find evidence to back up the complaint.
If the investigation turns up enough evidence to warrant disciplinary action, you may be given the offer of signing a consent order to resolve the matter. A consent order is a legally binding agreement in which you voluntarily submit to the disciplinary recommendations of the agency--whether it's fines, reprimands, probation, or surrendering your license. A consent order isn't always an advisable solution, but it may be your best option if disciplinary action is inevitable--especially if your attorney can use it as an opportunity to negotiate for more lenient actions.
In certain cases, you may be asked to attend a hearing to present your side of the story and show cause why you should be allowed to keep your vehicle dealer license. You may have an attorney represent you in this hearing.
Final Determination and Disciplinary Action
The DMV Commissioner will make a final decision whether or not to hand down disciplinary actions against you, up to and including revoking your dealer license.
Why Hire a License Defense Attorney
Even if your alleged violations seem minor, it's always a good idea to have legal representation when your professional license is at stake. In these matters, there is generally no presumption of innocence, and the DMV has a low burden of proof to decide whether you're guilty and to impose disciplinary action against you. A good licensed defense attorney will know how the disciplinary process works and can develop a strategy for getting you the best possible resolution--whether it's defending you in a hearing, negotiating for dismissal of the complaint or lenient penalties, etc. If you're facing regulatory violations or allegations of misconduct, your chances of keeping your license are much higher when you have a good attorney representing you.
It's important to remember that the disciplinary process can move quickly. Even if you know you haven't done anything wrong, it's wise to contact a licensed defense attorney right away to help protect your interests and ensure you're in compliance with all regulations. Don't wait until the last minute to get legal help--the best time to consult an attorney is as soon as you become aware of a potential violation.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team have a broad range of experience in matters like these, and they will work to get you the most favorable resolution possible. Take steps now to protect your career. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation.